In undergrad I took a class about how to make compelling powerpoint presentations. It was 2007 and people were losing their minds over making the best, most media packed, over the top presentations, to get an A.
I feel like that was the start of my arranged marriage to powerpoint for the rest of my academic and professional life. In Bschool, after you got through the Core and away from excel, you were thrown back into powerpoint presentations, searching the web for .png files to make the perfect mock up of your point. I took immense professional pride in working on the Upfronts deck at NBCU, and at Telemundo I spent 2 weeks storyboarding a post mortem for the marketing done around The World Cup coverage. A few years ago I was making 4 decks a week, and in my role at BET+, I made an 86 page brand deck, that I’m incredibly proud of, but man was it an inefficient way to explain anything.
So what does all of this have to do with what Jeff and I have in common? Well Jeff Bezos hates Powerpoint!
Here’s an email from 2004 where Bezos talks about how much he can’t stand Powerpoint:
A few years ago, Brad Porter, Amazon’s VP of Robotics, quoted Bezos on this:
“The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a PowerPoint presentation, some type of slide show. In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points. This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience. And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a six-page narrative memo … If you have a traditional PPT presentation, executives interrupt. If you read the whole six-page memo, on page 2 you have a question but on page 4 that question is answered.”
As someone who worships at the alter of operational excellence I was super into the idea of eliminating Powerpoint for a more efficient method, and wanted an excuse to implement the idea.
Bryar and Carr explain in the book that powerpoint lacks nuance, but narrative documents are portable and scalable. They allow for nonlinear and interconnected arguments. They’re better for decision making, you’re able to write while anticipating objection, you can connect the dots for the reader, and a narrative is more interactive.
Amazon meetings allegedly start with 20 minutes of silence while everyone reads, and then they can get down to brass tacks. Every narrative doesn’t have to be 6 pages, but they cannot be more than 6 pages. And your ability to craft a narrative can be a make or break for your success at the company. You are ultimately writing 1 page for every 10 minutes of a meeting/presentation.
A few months ago when I was speaking with a mentor he was encouraging me to make a walking deck, to prepare all senior and executive leadership for my 2022 vision by presenting a powerpoint of what I was thinking for the year ahead. It hit me after we hung up, that there was no way that I could present to every single person I needed to, and that my little neurodivergent brain would get exhausted with my own road show. So this year I figured was the perfect time to try my hand at the Amazon memo technique.
I’m proud to say that after 6 pages, size 10.5 font I was able to express some ambitious goals and strategic priorities in that document. And as a writer, I found it to be a more fulfilling exercise, it took the mental load off from presenting, and it’s allowed me to have some really in depth convos with internal stakeholders once it was sent around.
Now I won’t be sharing my document, but I did find another blogger, who not only explains the 6-pager but also shares his own 6-pager from his time at Amazon. You can find it HERE. Seriously, hit that link if you want to try your hand at a new technique for presentations and meetings.
I don’t think I’ll be able to eliminate powerpoint forever, but when it comes to presenting more strategic initiatives I can’t wait to dive into more Amazon memos.
Now if you’ve made it this far and you neither want to read a book or a blog post, enjoy some YouTube videos…
As most hot and interesting singles do on a Saturday night, I was sitting on my couch watching productivity YouTube videos and came across a great video from one of my favorite YouTubers Ali Abdaal.
I always love a book recommendation from people I admire, so I ordered Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon immediately. Not only was this a quick read, but it was the kick in the ass that I needed.
If you look through this blog you’ll see that I dipped my toe, during grad school, into the blogging space. I tried to talk fashion, lifestyle, food, all the things, but balancing a full time MBA program and work didn’t prove to be conducive to blogging. BUT, and this is a big but, I started to lose interest in writing about those things.
Yes, I enjoyed them as a topic, but I was less style blogger and more fascinated by people like Tim Ferris, Ryan Holiday, Ultralearners like Scott Young, memory champions like Nelson Dellis and Yanjaa Wintersoul, and unlimited mindset coaches like Jim Kwik. I would wistfully read their content, listen to them on podcasts, and then immediately think “I wish I could do what they do.” I would talk my mom’s ear off about how there were no Black women in the space that I knew of, and that when I was smarter, better, faster, and whatever other BS I would try my hand at sharing my personal ultralearning challenges, stoic journey, etc.
Those ANTs (automatic negative thoughts as Jim Kwik calls them) started having less of a hold on me when I came across Ali’s YouTube channel, because here was a doctor who was making the time to chase the things he wanted (like starting a business and learning to play the guitar), in addition to practicing medicine.
What does all of this have to do with me blogging/writing again…well that’s where Austin Kleon comes in.
Kleon talks in his book about making the commitment to learn in public. “…whatever the nature of your work, there is an art to what you do, and there are people who would be interested in that art, if only you presented it…” Rather than wait until I’m perfect or an expert to share, I’m willing to share my amateur attempts. Even Ed Catmull, my favorite imaginary mentor, talks about the benefits of approaching everything with a beginners mind. I want to share my writing not as a self-promotional attempt, but a self-discovery vehicle. As GaryVee says “document, don’t create.” I want to document my passion for productivity, pushing the limits of my cognitive ability, personal development, tech, and even love of storytelling and style.
Tim Ferris says it best, “waiting for someday will take your dreams to the grave,” and I realized I’ll never have a perfect resume to share my passions and projects. Also, to be a little self serving, teaching someone else will help drill the information, quotes, whatever into my brain better than holding it to myself. Even the stoics challenge us to stop putting off till tomorrow what we can do today, how much longer will we wait?
In some capacity, at the minimum, I will show my work weekly. I want to show the things I’m working on, and that includes:
Gaining fluidity in French so I can read French classics in their original language
Moving from #25 to the Top 15 of US Memory Athletes
Reading 100 books in a year (a goal I’m about to hit in 2021, so 2022 may be 101)
Learning Dutch and Italian, in pursuit of becoming a polyglot
Transitioning from long board to a short board in surfing
Regaining fluidity in Spanish
Organizing my home in a way that supports my neurodivergence
Teaching myself graphic design
Defining my style uniform, creating a wardrobe that lowers decision fatigue, and learning about the fashion industry
Becoming a media and entertainment futurist
…and probably a thousand more projects and topics, because my intellectual curiosity knows no bounds!
I look forward to showing my work, curating content that catches my attention, what I’ve learned, and what I’m noodling on at any given point, even if it’s for three people.
Now if you’ve stuck around until the end, here are some additional Ali Abdaal videos and Austin Kleon videos that I think you’ll like.
October was one of my stronger reading months, most 5 star reads, and most DNFs in a month.
A DNF for those that don’t frequent the book corners of social media are “did not finish” books. Every great reader I admire and aspire to be like (yes, having reading “idols” is really a thing) espouse the importance of not finishing books that aren’t clicking for you. Ali Abdaal said it best, treat books like blog posts. Take away what you want, leave when it isn’t serving you, and move on if it’s not working. Because I think we all know someone who is languishing away months at a time to read Sapiens. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but, IT’S OK TO NOT FINISH A BOOK!
Before I share my reviews, I have some book analytics thanks to Storygraph (the social book platform I use, now that I’ve left Goodreads).
I “read” 16 books, with 4 DNFs, and most of those DNFs were around 40-50% into the book.
47% of my reads were nonfiction, 53% were fiction…I don’t weigh nonfiction as more important but I’m proud to see an almost fair split. My average rating with 3.64 stars, and I read 4,750 pages, the most pages this year.
Pros: Grady Hendrix does campy horror stories so incredibly well. He has the right balance of gore, laughs, and story. There’s a really wonderful story about friendship at the center of this that made me a little misty in the end. It’s so fast paced and fun that it’s like reading a movie.
Cons: Grady is so committed to the social commentary and staying authentic to the time there are some moments that are offensive. (There’s reference to a Slave Auction day at the high school) SpoilerThe exorcism scene was a little long for no reason. I would have loved more scenes of how possessed Gretchen was impacting the students. I wanted to know what the parents thought or if Gretchen ever tried to tell anyone what happened…cause it felt like the exorcism was wrapped anticlimactically.
I don’t have the right vocabulary to explain how much I hated this book. I didn’t like the Silent Patient, and honestly reading this is on me knowing good and damn well I don’t like this author…but here we are. All my marginalia is just rants about how mad I am that I’m still reading it. The main character, hated her…the unnecessary tie to Silent Patient, burn it all down…the random ass parade of new characters to try and throw the reader off, oh boy. I want to fight the publisher. The men in this book are written so creepy that even I was like damn homie you are making a great case for neck beards with this. Just flames, flames on the side of my face.
I really enjoyed this, and it desperately made me want to go back to Paris. I would have loved a section on how the art, literature, and films of Paris helped her embrace her inner Parisienne, along with how she learned the language through living. Also Paris is such a visual medium, I would have loved pictures or a link to a website or Pinterest board. I did walk away fully inspired and looking forward to implementing points from the book. And I applaud the author for acknowledging the heteronormative nature of the dating portion, and including Black women in the interviewees because Black women aren’t always associated with a typically French aesthetic.
I was looking for a book the would inspire me to believe bigger with the help of my Christian faith. This book wasn’t it for me. Yes this is hopeful, grounded in the word, and very vulnerable. However, it feels exceptionally repetitive and the overall thesis feels like she’s projecting. The only way to you purpose is some major life shake up by God. I would have loved for this to be more about believing bigger, walking through the Bible and finding all the places God calls us to accept and ask for bigger. This was a lot of repetition, and could have been a lovely YouTube video.
Pros: Bennett does a beautiful job weaving all of these seemingly branched timelines and stories together to make a really rich picture of how this family got to where they are. The pacing was good, I didn’t get bored at all. There’s beautiful commentary on identity, and the inhumanity marginalized people face.
Cons: It felt like another Imitation of Life style passing story. The sections served no point. It felt like it was written to get non Black people to have compassion for all the generational trauma Black people deal with.
I don’t even know how to review this book because I don’t fully understand what I read. I like that it challenged me, but the book felt so heavy handed on symbolism and metaphor that I wondered if that was intentional or satire. Pros: It’s a fairly quick read. Loved the Heathers/The Craft/Coven vibes. Also enjoyed the satire around writers and artists. Cons: Genuinely couldn’t tell what was intentional and what was just heavy handed on metaphors. I wish there’d been some semblance of character development so I got a sense of the situations I got dropped into. The three act structure didn’t feel like it was used well.
Pros: Really great mix of hip hop/pop culture and feminist commentary. It doesn’t center mainstream feminism in any way or use that as the set point for the book to move from. It’s incredibly challenging and forces you to check your respectability politics at the door as a Black reader.
Cons: While the first portion of the book felt like incredibly crafted essays the back half felt like personal stories. Would have loved more academic insight or even a portion at the end of additional reading so I could continue engaging in the topics she brings up.
I will never meet Steve Jobs and I’ll probably never meet Ed Catmull but this book has profoundly changed my life every time I’ve read it. I’ve been a senior manager desperately looking for a way to find my professional and creative voice, I’ve been a director wanting mentorship and a North Star on how to innovate, and I’ve been a VP wanting to be the leader I always wished for and to create the groundwork for my professional legacy. I’m never the same person every time I read this, but I always walk away from this book changed. And I’ll never get through the final chapter without sobbing because it reminds we that we don’t get to experience our legacy, but we plant the seeds for it while we’re here.
Pros: This was so fast paced and kept me engaged from the moment I started it. I thought I knew where this plot was going but it surprised me in the best way. It had more heart than a traditional thriller. I like at the center is really a story about what you’d do for your family and the people you love.
Cons: I didn’t think the book needed to be divided into parts. The story was cohesive without those “commercial breaks.” As someone who knows nothing about Austin, those details about the city were lost on me, and could have gone toward the story. There were some superfluous characters that felt like they were just there to make certain plot holes make sense (I’m looking at you best friend and high school boyfriend character).
Pros: Loved the setting against the Mexican backdrop, all Gothic stories don’t need to be set in England. Really enjoyed the themes around women’s health, believing women, and women finding their power/breaking generational curses. I can see why this is being adapted, lots of visual mental pictures come up while reading.
Cons: For a 300 page book this is so slow that I almost DNF’d multiple times. It’s so wordy that I had to just breeze through some of the descriptions to get on with the plot. The eugenics convos served no purpose to the plot in my opinion.
Honestly, I didn’t enjoy this book, maybe I’ll like it more when it becomes a TV series. But, this confirmed that even with a WOC writing, gothic is not my genre.
Pros: Loved a rom com book with a Black woman at the center. Loved that the main character was over 35 and not posed as a spinster. The social media element was cute and made for a new setting on the fake relationship trope.
Cons: This was a DNF for me, it was so slow and so British and just had words for the sake of having words. The author spends a literal chapter and a half trying to prove she can write a Black female character that she spends it talking about Black hair. It was clearly projection having a chapter about a white stylist doing her hair, to show a white person can comprehend a Black experience. But that immediately went out the window when at the end of the chapter her friend asks to touch her Afro and she gladly welcomes it. There was nothing interesting about the story that made me want to stick around.
This was a DNF for me. There were some strong moments in the first story, but the surreal narratives were way over my head and I couldn’t get through the writing. There are other short story collections I’ve loved this year that have set the bar so high that this wasn’t the right kind of challenging read for me. BUT I may revisit this one next year.
These were phenomenal and short reads that lit a fire under my ass to let go of my analysis paralysis and show my work, not allow my limiting beliefs to keep me from sharing my knowledge and work, and to keep going through it all.
I took some days off from blogging, which meant I took a bunch of outfit pictures that never made it on the blog.
I was dragging, then I was exhausted, got some days off from school, worked out, and went home for fall break…so posting WIW went to the wayside.
So without further rambling…I give you the forgotten days:
The day of the BBSA conference was rough and took me back to my pageant days…being in full hair and makeup before the sun is up, spending all day in heels, and coming home to possible nerve damage in your feet.
I will admittedly say the first day was a serious miss, like when I put the picture on my snapchat I immediately got a text from my mom asking, “What are you wearing?!?” But my favorite hit of the week came courtesy of my new obsession, my super deep burgundy MAC lipstick. I’ll share the color another day, but its an amazing color that I adore. It looked nice with my hair back and down, it just adds the perfect amount of drama.
So if nothing else, learn from me that some days will be hits and others will be serious misses…but you get an A for effort.
Girl crush would be an understatement about this lady. She is aspirational, real, and the friend you wish you had.
I’ve been following her blog for some time (coconut milk ice cubes, chia seeds, diva cups…she covers it all), so when she announced that she was creating the bombshell body guides I just had to try it. If you are wondering, I bought the guides, tried them, and fell in love with them long before I talked to anyone at Skinny Confidential to review them…that’s how much I loved them!
A few weeks ago I was on the Soko Glam site looking for new products and came across the Soko Glam 7 Day Sheet mask challenge. First off, if you don’t know about sheet masks, you and your skin are seriously missing out on some high quality pampering. I love sheet masks because 1) I can wear my glasses while using them, 2) my skin always looks better after using them…INSTANTLY!
First off, pardon WIW coming to you on a Monday…I had finals and midterms all last week and the idea of blogging and posting seemed painful to deal with.
So you are getting this post several days late, but at least you are getting it…so let’s get some clothes…
You can tell these outfits where during finals and review sessions…because everything is varying degrees of comfort. My rule when dealing with review weeks and tests is if I can’t comfortable cross my legs and sit on the floor in it, than I will spend my whole test/review fidgeting with what I have on.
The flannel/camo combo was inspired by a suggestion I got on my Stitch Fix account. By the way Stitch Fix is amazing (that’s where I got my awesome new jeans from!), and no they aren’t paying me to tell you that they’re amazing. If you want to check the site out, follow this link. That same day I had to take the club photo for the Black Business Students Association. I wore a gorgeous David Meister dress and Jimmy Choo heels, however I wasn’t feeling particularly girly lugging my backpack while wearing it, so I changed out of it in under 30 seconds and never took a picture (maybe I’ll do a post of all the outfits I’ve worn and never talked about).
Hopefully something on here inspired you to add a little umph to your super casual wear…or maybe buy a beenie for bad hair days (they’re a lifesaver for bad hair days if you have a giant head).
This week there are only 4 outfits because I was so excited to head home that I didn’t stop to take a photo of what I was wearing…but I’ll eventually restyle to outfit and post it. But moving forward, since we don’t have class on Fridays, you probably won’t be seeing 5 outfits anymore (because I go heavily athleisure on my off days).
I won’t lie to you, I was white knuckling to the end of the week, so I relied heavily on trying to make myself feel up to conquer the day by putting a wee bit more effort into my look. Also, I was lucky to have some fun moments this week to take my mind off of all the stress.
This was a heavy high/low mixing week. I felt a little like I needed to approach my clothes like costumes this particular week. I went to Fun Home Grandpa Chic in my plaid pants and sweater, since I knew the play was set in a funeral home. Also I had the opportunity to attend a sports/technology event, and since I refuse to wear a suit, the second outfit with the leather jacket was my take on a suit. I’m always pushing the boundaries of work wear and what is appropriate, I’m a habitual line stepper when it comes to appropriate attire.
If you are a broadway nerd like me I would recommend Fun Home because they are doing some interesting things in that play with staging, visuals, and music. I wasn’t in love with the entire experience, but I thought the unique ideas they tried were really fascinating. Its innovative and interesting, and I would say you should see it if you can.
I’ll talk more about the Estee Lauder breakfast in a future post about recruiting and informationals, so hang tight on that.
With the stress of school, my number one addiction is the post workout endorphin rush.
I’m pretty sure if I didn’t sweat it out for at least 10 minutes every day I would go crazy.
I love new fit challenges, and one challenge I’m embarking on come Monday October 12th is the Amanda Bisk Fresh Body Fit Mind 12 Week Challenge. I’m mainly telling you all this so everyone can hold me accountable to completing the full 12 weeks. But also because I’m headed to LA in January for a big job trek, and we all know what Dion Sanders said about feeling good. (You Look Good You Feel Good, You Feel Good You Play Good, You Play Good They Pay Good!)
In the mean time leading up to Monday I’ve been all over Amanda’s insta feed to find workouts to ease me into the sweet torture I know is starting soon. One awesome workout I found on her page was this Name Workout.
So my full name has lots of Ms and Ns in it…I’ve never been more mad at my parents until I was doing 40 full burpees back to back.
I wanted to share it here, so you can tackle your first name, middle, last, married, and sweat it out while celebrating yourself! Come on, who doesn’t love a workout based YOU!!!
If you’d like to follow my #FBFM journey or join in the fun, I’m going to chronicle it all on my instagram.
I’d love you hear how you are sweating it out this Wednesday.
Some how Wednesdays have become my recipe days…or I eat a lot and this is an excuse to share my eating habit with others.
I fell in love with eggs about a year ago. And I don’t mean rubbery scrambled eggs, I mean poached eggs with a runny yolk, soft scrambled eggs that taste like melted cheese (without the cheese), soft boiled eggs…I’m what some would call an egg slut.
I also love good wholesome food. Now don’t get me wrong I go H.A.M. on some doughnuts and fried chicken (shoutout to Astros Doughnuts in DC), but I also love simple delicious food.
Meet my favorite breakfast of all time…
Now this isn’t a recipe kind of post, it’s a put stuff in a bowl and enjoy kind of post!
2 super soft scrambled eggs (p.s. I believe in making my eggs in either “real” kerrigold butter or coconut oil, with yolks…got to have those good fats, but just 0.5-1 tbsp)
2oz of smoked salmon
2 cups mixed greens (or more, no one will fault you for wanting more veggies)
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Simple, right? You can layer everything on top of the mixed greens like I did, or you can throw it all together and enjoy. I love the briny taste of the smoked salmon with the creaminess of the egg and avocado. If I really want to go to flavor town (DDD is my jam), then use arugula instead of mixed greens and you get that yummy peppery bite. And if I really want to go nuts I put a few oil packed sundried tomatoes on top.
I have been known when I’m feeling culinarily uncreative to make this meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This yummy bowl is paleo friendly, gluten free, dairy free, full of healthy fats, and tastes like heaven.
It’s also good for those times when you are trying to go low carb and you feel like you are moments from devouring your entire kitchen, or biting off the next person’s head who asks you why you’re so crabby…not like I’ve been there before or anything.
Hope you enjoy this bowl of yumminess as much as I do!